Preaching About Money

Preaching About Money

I think most pastors cringe just a little bit when the subject of preaching about money comes up.  We don’t like to do it.  Why?  I suspect it is because we believe that people in the congregation don’t want to hear such things.  We know, as I said in an earlier post, that we are supposed to preach about important things, but this one seems to be off the list for what people want.

A Pertinent Legend

There’s an old legend about a young pastor who accepted a call to a small church.  In this particular church there was an older man who was kind of a “church boss”.  This man had great influence in the congregation, and, thankfully, came alongside the young preacher to coach him.

The first week the new pastor preached against the demons of alcohol, and encouraged everyone to be sober and avoid strong drink at every turn.  The people were effusive in their encouragement.  The second week he preached against the rich and how they mistreated those lower on the socio-economic scale, and that we should be crying for justice for the poor.  Since many in the congregation were poor, and no one could be described as “rich”, again the comments on his message were positive.

The third week in his new congregation the pastor preached about money, saying that God wants a tithe, and if everyone in the church gave 10%, all their money worries would be over.  The people were not nearly as responsive to this message.  Later in the week, the pastor ran into the older mentor from the congregation.  He asked him why the response was so lukewarm.  The older man replied, “The first two weeks you were here, you preached the word with power.  This past Sunday you just went to meddlin’ in our business.”

Such is the danger for the preacher who dares to schedule preaching about money into the sermon plans.

Why don’t people like money sermons?

That’s a good question.  This is really hard to nail down, but let me give a couple of reasons that I think are applicable.

People Don’t Want Others to Know

First of all, people know that their use of money reflects their values.  People can talk about how much they love your church, how much they want to see hunger abolished from the earth, their desire for the poor to be lifted up, and the hope that missionaries reach the world for Jesus.  But you won’t know if they really believe and hope these things until you see whether or not they are giving to organizations that advance these goals.

Jesus knew well that our spending reflects our values.  He spoke about money more than about heaven, hell and prayer combined.  As Pastor Rick Ezell put it in a magazine article for Preaching: “Jesus knew that what people did with their money was a good indication of their priorities and commitments.  He said, ‘Where your treasure is, there your heart is also’.”

Preaching about money forces people to reflect on this, and that makes many uncomfortable.

People Feel Inundated With Requests

cartoon about preaching on giving

‘The Bishop called – he’d like to see a copy of that sermon you gave last Sunday.’

Another potential reason people might not receive messages about money well is that they receive dozens, maybe hundreds of requests for money gifts.  I recently received a mailing from a political organization.  They said they really wanted my opinion about things that are being discussed right now in our country.  I eagerly filled out the form they gave, and waited for some response.  The only response was that I started getting mailing after mailing asking for money.

That happens with a multitude of organizations, from public broadcasting, to schools we went to; from places we visited, to places like museums that we supported once.  They all solicit our monetary gifts.

Then comes the church.  I once gave money to Oral Roberts.  In one of his television programs, he announced that for a donation of $10 or more he said he would send me a cross made up of nails similar to those that Jesus endured.  I wanted the cross, so I sent in my $10.  That organization followed me for the next ten years, with mailed request after mailed request, even though I never gave any more money to them.

So, people might just feel that the church has adopted the same values as the world, and they don’t want to hear about their use of money.

Next time, we’ll explore some more of the reasons people don’t want you preaching about money as well as some ways to approach such messages.


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